Often overlooked by travelers considering a Caribbean yacht charter, Antigua is nothing short of a boater’s tropical paradise. Its south and west coasts are cruising treasures, and the island has more scenic and sheltered anchorages than most Caribbean destinations.
ENGLISH HARBOUR NAVAL BASE
The island’s English Harbour first served as a British naval base in the 1600’s. The base and its nearby forts protected Antigua’s lucrative sugarcane production.
Sailing into English Harbour is truly memorable. The stone buildings of Fort Berkely to port and Shirley Heights high above to starboard are a dramatic sight. Sailboats and mega yacht charter vessels fill the harbour, and Sunsail operates a sailing bareboat charter base here. Cruising past the superyachts in the Harbour is breathtaking.Once you have anchored or docked in the marina, Nelson’s Dockyard, is well worth a stroll. It looks much as it did centuries ago, with working capstans and lovingly restored buildings. Restaurants, hotels, boutiques and a museum keep the area lively.
If you are fortunate to visit the island on a Sunday, an afternoon barbecue atop Shirley Heights with its spectacular sunset over English Harbour should not be missed.
CADES REEF SNORKELING
From English Harbour, many yachts cruise along the southwest coast to Cades Reef, a beautiful spot for snorkeling. Further along the coastline is Boggy Peak, the highest peak on the island.
Moving up the west coast, is Jolly Harbor. It offers a brand new marina and is surrounded by resort hotels with pools and restaurants. Helicopters tours can be arranged to fly from Jolly Harbor to the island of Montserrat, to see the remains of a volcano that recently devastated that island.
If you like beaches, Antigua’s shoreline is one white sandy beach after another. Deep Bay at Hawks Bill (near a rock that resembles a hawk’s head) is another great spot for an al fresco lunch and a swim. Divers can explore a nearby shipwreck, the Andes. For onshore activity, you can visit nearby Fort Barrington, and the Grand Royal Antiguan Beach Resort.
Shoppers can spend time in St. John’s – the island’s capital city. The Heritage Quay area has trendy designer shops, while the nearby Redcliffe Quay is more traditional with inviting shady patios nestled amongst restored buildings.
A walking tour of the city should include seeing St. John’s Cathedral and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.
Renting a taxi is a good way to explore the island’s interior. You can visit a real sugar mill at Betty’s Hope, or take a ride along Fig Tree Drive, where you can see the round stone towers of centuries-old abandoned sugar mills.
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